Knoll NotablesIndividuals who captured the zeitgeist of their era in little more than a pose
Knoll has provided seating solutions for over three-quarters of a century. In celebration of Knoll’s time-honored supporting role to actors, artists, and other noteworthy individuals, we wanted to showcase some of personalities from past and present who’ve found comfort in Knoll Classics.
Andy Warhol, 1964
Artist Andy Warhol shown seated in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Chair. Photograph by David McCabe.
Andy Warhol, Pop Art’s iconoclastic savant, has always had an appetite for commercial innovation. Known as a shutterbug, given his propensity to photograph nearly everything with his Polaroid camera, Warhol was often among the first to tinker with new products, including Apple’s Macintosh computer. Dandy that he was, Warhol jumped on the opportunity to become socially acquainted with Philip Johnson in 1964, when he was at the forefront of architectural community.
Leading up to the meeting, Warhol was keen to point out to his coterie that Johnson’s Glass House was “in all the magazines.” He loved the home’s reflective surfaces and modern design and remained his playful self during the intimate gathering. “Where does he [i.e. Philip Johnson] go to the bathroom in this place,” he asked cheekily, knowing full well the answer to his own question. Failing to remove his sunglasses, which had become his modus operandi, Warhol made himself at home on Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, his cowboy boots peeking out from beneath his perfectly tailored suit trousers. (Secondary reports says that he was found reclining on the nearby Barcelona Couch, away from the other guests, shortly before this photograph was taken.)
Joceyln Lane, 1965
Actress Jocelyn Lane shown seated in Harry Bertoia's Diamond Chair. Photograph by unknown photographer.
Thought of as Brigitte Bardot’s British-brunette counterpart, Jocelyn Lane started out modeling in the UK at age eighteen, before going on to co-star with Elvis Presley in the musical comedy Tickle Me. Capitalizing the film's success, she relocated to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. However, her aloof on-screen demeanor failed to catch on with American audiences. Lane married into Spanish Royalty and subsequently retired from the silver screen. Something of a forgotten icon, Lane is shown here poolside in Bertoia’s Diamond chair with her dog, circa 1965.
Pablo Picasso, 1967
Artist Pablo Picasso shown seated in Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chair. Photograph by Gjon Mili for LIFE Magazine. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images.
Pablo Picasso launched his Cubist career celebrating underrepresented forms in innovative ways, so it appears fitting that he came into possession of Eero Saarinen’s organic-shaped Tulip Arm Chair (shown here in his Mougins studio in Southern France). The photograph was taken by the Albanian-American photographer Gjon Mili, known for his kinetic photographs that capture the stroboscopic effects of light over time. Picasso appears at ease—although somewhat dour—as he takes a break from painting masterpieces in Saarinen's perch.
Faye Dunaway, 1968
Actress Faye Dunaway shown seated in Eero Saarinen's Tulip Stool. Publicity still for The Thomas Crown Affair. Photograph courtesy of MPTV Images.
Faye Dunaway—known for her roles in Bonnie & Clyde, Chinatown, and The Thomas Crown Affair—sits poised on Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Stool for publicity stills requested by her production company, United Artists. Intended for the 1968 release of The Thomas Crown Affair—in which Dunaway acted opposite Steve McQueen—the stills did not ultimately find their way into any major publications. Nonetheless, we particularly love the visual rhyming of Dunaway’s hat with graceful curves of the chair’s base.
Laurence Fishburne, 1984
Actor Laurence Fishburne is shown seated in Harry Bertoia's Side Chairs. Photograph by unknown photographer.
Laurence Fishburne is shown here early in his career, when he was in and out of television and stage acting and residing in New York City. Laurence Fishburne rearranged three Bertoia Side Chairs into a makeshift chaise to pose for this photograph in front of Paley Park’s dramatic waterfall. The chairs are still utilized by The Museum of Modern Art, which manages the park to this day.
Patroness Marella Agnelli shown reclining in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Couch. Photograph by Riccardo Moncalvo.
The better half of the rakish Italian business magnet Gianni Agnelli, Marella Agnelli chose marriage over motherhood by becoming the patroness of Agnelli’s multiple estates. Of her domestic vocation she once said, “To catch a man all one needs is a bed, but it takes a well-run home to keep him.” Known for her savoir faire, Marella developed an odd array of talents. She became an accomplished gardener and interior decorator, forging friendships with the British landscape architect Russell Page and interior designer Stéphane Boudin—who consulted with Jackie Kennedy on the décor of the White House.
With her dramatic sinuous figure, Marella was a model and photographer’s assistant for Erwin Blumenfeld before her marriage to Agnelli. In this photograph, by Riccardo Moncalvo, Marella appears exceptionally graceful as she lounges on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Couch. The remainder of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Collection was permanently situated in the living room of the Villa Bona along with Eero Saarinen’s Pedestal Collection, which made up one of Agnelli’s dining rooms.
John F. Kennedy seated in Hans Wegner's PP-501 also known simply as "The Chair." Photograph from CBS Archives.
This image, captured during the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960, became so iconic that Hans Wegner’s classic PP-501 (depicted) was known simply as “The Chair.” Considered by many to be one of the finest chairs designed by the Danish designer, the PP-501 is the first of Wegner's designs to do away with stylistic references to different designers and cultures. Dubbed "the Round One" by its creator, the chair solidified Wegner's place in the canon of modern design. Knoll held exclusive U.S. distribution rights for Hans Wegner’s collection from 1970 to 1978, and continues to be manufactured by J. Hansen, in Copenhagen, to this day.
Kennedy’s populist appeal was immortalized by this photograph. Appearing simultaneously humble and regal, he sits pensively before the start of the debates. Known for splitting the difference between common man and celebrity, Kennedy was the youngest president to be elected to the Oval Office and remains the only Roman Catholic to have served as Commander in Chief. His equally public and glamorous lifestyle was tempered by his deep-seated concern for the average American citizen. In his inaugural address, he famously called on the nations of the world to join the fight against “the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” During his administration, Kennedy saw America through turbulent times, including the Bay of Pigs, the Space Race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the erection of the Berlin Wall, and the onset of the Civil Rights Movement.